Three weeks ago today I received an ominous text message from my older cousin who is an ER physician in New York City. “My advice with coronavirus is be careful with your history”. I stopped what I was doing immediately, stepped outside of the coffee shop I was working in and called her on the phone. I couldn’t have imagined it then, but a mere 5 days later everything she had warned me about was playing out before my eyes.
I have a chronic condition where the lining of my heart becomes inflammed and can fill with fluid if not controlled. I take medication for it and I am mostly fine, but I am one of the vulnerable that we are all hearing about on the news. I’m doing my very best to keep myself protected and part of that meant leaving my apartment in New York City’s Lower East Side neighborhood.
In just a few days time an ominous warning became a real threat and I left NYC for my parents home on Long Island on the morning of March 15th, mere hours before the government closures began. I left and began my civic duty to self-isolate just as the panic had begun to set in. “Pack for 2-3 weeks,” my cousin had advised, and I did just that, bringing with me mostly comfortable clothing, my running sneakers, a couple pairs of jeans and whichever bag was already packed—that happened to be my Gucci Marmont GG Flap Bag.
Leaving my apartment was surreal and incredibly emotionally and something deep inside of me knew that life wouldn’t be the same for awhile. As the news has progressed it’s become incredibly apparent that NYC, which is now the epicenter here in the US, is not safe for me right now. I am much more likely to become exposed to the virus there than I am on Long Island.
Today marks the start of my 3rd week here, the longest stretch I’ve been away from my home since I studied abroad in college. Like most people I’ve had good days and I’ve had bad days. Last week there were more rough patches than there were bright spots though, and I found myself getting upset very easily.
One particular afternoon I started missing my bags. The thought came after reading this piece and being inspired to write a story about my own pieces. It started to set in that I really had no idea when I’d see my bags again and I started to cry. Then I started to laugh-cry that I was really shedding tears over a bunch of handbags but it hit me—sometimes our bags are really more than just ‘stuff’.
It’s the comfort of normalcy that I miss, the calm of a routine, the peace of my own space and surroundings and yes—I miss my bags. I long to carry them again, and I yearn for the day I’m late getting out of my apartment because I must switch up my purse to suit my current mood. And while yes, the simple way I’ve expressed how I’m feeling is that I miss my bags, in a lot of ways my bags are an indicator of just how much things have changed.
It would be remiss of me not to mention how grateful I am to have escaped the epicenter of this crisis in NYC. Despite the lost feeling that’s settling in, I know how lucky I am to be safe when so many others do not have the luxury to leave. And the little reminder I’m saying in my head that I’ll see my bags again soon? That’s my own way of saying this too shall pass.